Augmented Reality and Data Physicalization

Our work with augmented reality (AR) and physicalization blends a dynamic layer of digital content with physical visualizations. Data physicalizations are a detailed, tangible way to visualize data which engage both the visual and tactile senses. Physicalizations allow us to use the knowledge and context of the real world to interpret data, and allow for collaboration between stakeholders in a visualization. However, since physicalizations are constrained by the physical world, these data representations are often static.

AR visualization of ocean currents along the southern coast of Africa overlayed on a physical, 3D printed model of bathymetric data (first person view from headset user)

Touch-sensitive data physicalization with projected computer graphics

We add interactivity to physicalizations through the use of computer graphics, augmented reality headsets, high-accuracy tracking systems, and custom touch input devices. These technologies provide a means of displaying and interacting with diverse types of data. For instance, in the left figure, ocean currents from the MPAS-O1 climate dataset are shown in AR on top of a physical printout of the ocean depth data. The physical model is tracked, allowing users to move it around and observe how the currents behave based on the ocean depth.

Various data physicalizations

Augmented Reality visualization of biogeochemistry data with a physical, 3D printed model of the Gulf of Mexico and dynamic computer graphics generated by the Artifact-Based Rendering engine.

Magic Leap AR headset with external trackers attached

1Data were obtained from the Energy Exascale Earth System Model project, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research.